I remember you suggesting during our Christmas party to put an illustration board around our monitor and calibrate it. I did that tonight and here is the picture that I process. I do not find the picture super sharp and would like to know if this is good enough or how do I sharpen it some more without overdoing it.
The midtones look a bit dark on my LCD, Ely. I'd brighten it up a bit, perhaps during RAW conversion to avoid blowing the bright spot on the perch.
This is actually a very sharp capture, note the well defined feathers to the right of the wing. It gives the illusion of softness because most of the bird is outside the DOF, hence not in focus. The shooting parameters (800 mm, f/5.6, 6.43 m distance) would yield a paper-thin DOF, but I see that you were already at ISO 1600 and stopping down further for more DOF is already difficult given the 1/125 sec shutter speed. In this case, I'd try if possible to re-position my shooting angle such that the bird's body is parallel instead of oblique to the sensor plane.
I feel like laughing and crying at the same time. My goal is to get as close to the bird as possible which I did. I could not adjust the angle as there was no space to do so. To increase the ISO to get a deeper DOF would sacrifice the IQ. I guess this is what makes birding so interesting. Everything has to be right which is seldom so. The day it comes true it will be a cause for a celebration. Thank you Romy.
My recently posted shot of a Barred Rail is an example of how to deal with paper-thin DOF at near shooting distance.
Here, I tried to shoot the bird when the head and body are more or less parallel to the sensor plane. The DOF is nearly similar to your situation - 700 mm, f/5.6, 6.47 m distance, ISO 3200, 1/250 sec, bean bag.
I also couldn't stop down further to increase the DOF because the bird is walking in low light (ISO 6400 would be noisier and slower than 1/250 sec would likely result into motion blur).
With what you have shown me, I have learned that we just have to make the best out of the situation. We try to get as close as possible, hope for the right angle, hope for a good light, hope the bird does not move, hope the bird stays long enough to get some good shots and hope that we come out with a good composition. When this happens we have a lot to be thankful for. If it does not we can go back to hoping that there is a next time. In spite of all this, I still like bird photography.